75.4-million baby boomers will enter retirement over the next decade joining a 65-plus age group that each year is using technology (e.g., smartphones, tablets and social media) at a greater clip.
As they embark on their new post-career lifestyle, retiring baby boomers will adjust their spending habits, including where and how they make purchases. All businesses should adjust their marketing tactics, likewise.
Why? Because, this is not a small group of folks. AARP says that those Americans who are 55-plus (those who are part of that group that will be turning 65 in the next ten years) make up the third largest economy in the world. Business Insider reported in 2015 that, “four out of five retailers attribute nearly 50% of their sales to boomers.” And Entrepreneur Magazine underscores the stat. In a piece penned by PR thought-leader, Dan Blacharski, the mag writes: “meet[ing] the needs of seniors is not a practice reserved solely for senior-centric industries … Nearly every company should be considering new ways to reach this massive market of consumers.”
Here’s the thing about the senior marketplace, though. While they are embracing technology because this group of adults didn’t grow up in the internet age, marketers do have to perform a bit of a balancing act when interacting with them.
Some tech stats:
In 2016, Pew Research reports that of those 65+, 67% used the internet (as compared to 90% of the general population), 42% had smartphones (as compared to 77% of the general population) and 34% used social media (as compared to 69% of the general population). This is a huge increase from 2000 when 12% of seniors used the internet. While, smartphone ownership has almost doubled since 2013, social media has yet to become mainstream in this age category, with only 34% now using social media. That said, the rate is a 7% increase from 2013. Note that those in the younger senior age category use technology even more, with 82% of 65 to 69 year olds using the internet.
Two additional facts:
• Among seniors, 76% of internet users and 91% of smartphone owners go online at least once a day
• The majority of older adults surveyed (58%) agree that technology has had a mostly positive effect on society, while only 4% believe that it has had a mostly negative impact
What does this mean for business? Some tips:
Market to the seniors
Market directly to the end-buyeer, not their children or their caregivers. And, when doing so consider the use of 20th century marketing tools such as direct mail and print articles (not just on line media) for PR landings.
Use more than 140 characters
Be straightforward, write it out and avoid millennial-speak, that is, trendy acronyms. “When in doubt, err on the side of over-explaining to mitigate the risk of frustrating a boomer interested in learning more,” writes Blacharski. “Seniors don’t respond to abbreviated language such as ‘GPS’ or ’24/7’.”
When seniors were growing up, their products lasted. Therefore, traditionally their purchase decisions are not made lightly. Seniors like to build trust with their brands. “Baby boomers view each purchase as a commitment… Short-selling a product or service will not work with this audience,” writes Blacharski.
Get personal and be patient, some more
Sale teams should understand that baby boomers have free time, more than they’ve ever had. So, expect that a customer service call may be time consuming, but rapport building (which may include personal stories) could mean a sale.